In season: rhubarb, apples and more
Food & Wine
Winter may seem bleak and never-ending but there are still lots of fruit and vegetable treats to be had. Here are our current favourites.
If the garden is too claggy to reach that clump of rhubarb, vacuum packed bags of fresh, washed, and sliced rhubarb (RRP $5.99) selling now in some supermarkets could appeal.
Western Harvest rhubarb growers of Otaki have included some snappy suggestions on the packs. For instance, gently simmer 400g rhubarb with 75ml water until soft and fluffy, then - and only then - add cup sugar. Or cook half and half rhubarb and apple (or rhubarb and strawberries, in summer) and use 1 packet raspberry jelly and cup sugar to sweeten.
The mahana red apples growing in Nelson and Hawke's Bay are all from one wild apple tree growing in the orchard of apple grower Braden Field. A crisp apple that is going to stay our own rather than join the export drive, mahana red is an eater that is almost too good to cook, but the crisp raw slices make a delicious winter salad when raw slices of apple and fennel are tossed in a lemon juice-based vinaigrette and a few sprigs of fresh dill and parsley are chopped finely and scattered over. Mahana red apples are available in Countdown stores now.
Large juicy tangelos are in the markets now. The fruit are a cross between grapefruit and tangerine, the flavour is somewhere between bitter-tart and tart- sweet, and they are super juicy.
Make a bright winter marmalade by boiling one whole lemon, whole tangelo and two small grapefruit until soft and squishy. Discard the water and use a blender or a food processor to reduce the fruit to pulp. Weigh and add two- thirds of the weight in warm sugar. Stir to dissolve over gentle heat, then bring to a ploppy simmer and cook until the mixture is at setting point. Pour into warmed sterilised jars.
Cauliflowers have been getting good press lately from food writers and telly cooks. They have come a long way from boiled or cheesed and now cauli heads and florets pop up in pasta, couscous, salads, lasagne.
A culinary suggestion from Nigel Slater's mate Yotam Ottolenghi has the brassica as the base of an unusual salad. Start with infusing a pinch of saffron threads in a small amount of boiling water for a minute then pour it over a medium cauli and bake covered in an oven for 30-40 minutes. Ottolenghi adds red onions, golden raisins, green olives and bay leaves but the saffron alone introduces an exotic note to the everyday cauli. From there, why not experiment with your own salad ingredients.
Angelys pears have a bronzed skin with a pink blush and smooth, sweet flesh. As ever a hit with the raw bunch, but these pears are also good in the pan or the oven. Dense fleshy pears are good cookers and ideal for upside down cakes, tarts and tangles.
Try this pear and mushroom tangle
Slice a pear per person and saute in the merest skerrick of oil and butter. As soon as the flesh colours add 2-3 mushrooms per person to the pan, and cook, stirring. When the mushrooms are soft, add a few crumbs of blue cheese (per person). Stir to combine, taste and add salt and pepper. Keep at a low heat then when ready to serve add a handful of rocket (per person). Drizzle over a little balsamic vinegar and serve piled on a thick slice of hot toast. A good supper, entree or lunch dish. A poached egg on top will boost the protein intake.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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